New Paltz native Kayleigh Buboltz, 23, is the new childcare program director of the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County. And in a sense, it’s a job she’s been preparing for her entire life.
“I was raised on the YMCA and the values of it,” Buboltz says. As a youngster, she attended summer camp in New Paltz; first attending Camp Wiltmeet in 1997, the year it opened. She became a camp counselor there in 2006, inspired by the “awesome” counselors she had at the camp, she says. “I became a counselor because of them.”
Similarly inspired by her teachers throughout her school years in New Paltz, Buboltz did a dual major in childhood and special education at Albany’s College of Saint Rose after graduating from New Paltz High School, where she played varsity volleyball and later returned to coach. She’s certified now to teach grades one through six in New York State, and is currently in an online graduate program through DeVry University, where she’s working on her master’s degree in education with a concentration in educational technology. She hopes to finish the program by December.
Buboltz says her interest in working with kids is all about “making a difference in their lives, whether it’s in a classroom or a kickball game.” In her new position, she’s stepping into the shoes of former YMCA childcare director Lee Anne Albritton, who recently accepted a position as executive director of the nonprofit Poughkeepsie Farm Project that operates a member-supported farm and provides education and access to locally-grown food. “Lee Anne taught me everything I know,” says Buboltz. “She really built up the programs at the YMCA over the years, and I want to keep that going.”
Buboltz will handle administration of the two YMCA summer camps: Camp Starfish in Kingston and Camp Wiltmeet in New Paltz. She’ll hire team members, she says, and conduct training. Once camp begins, it’ll be run onsite by Rebecca Angle and Elise Cimino, also longtime YMCA veterans.
“We’re really a family here,” Buboltz says. “It’s a community. These are all people that I’ve been friends with for years; we grew up together at camp, and now we’ve been working together for years.”
The eight-week program at Camp Wiltmeet will return to Lenape Elementary School in New Paltz this year. Buboltz says she’d like to add some field trips to the program (perhaps to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, now that Albritton is there) and maybe bring local police and firefighters to the camp for a visit. Her brother is a volunteer with the New Paltz fire department, Buboltz says, and she’d like to have the firemen come by and talk to the kids the way they go into the schools to talk about fire safety.
The six-week Camp Starfish in Kingston is a smaller program, says Buboltz, with about 45 campers compared to Camp Wiltmeet’s 150-plus. “We’re calling it a ‘learning loss prevention program,'” says Buboltz. The program is designed to keep the kids up on reading and writing skills over the summer. Last year they did journal writing at the camp, Buboltz says, and this year she plans on including a lot of reading for the kids, whether independently or having counselors read out loud. Camp Starfish offers a lower-cost program and has scholarships available, as well, she adds.
Buboltz will also oversee the YMCA’s before- and after-school program during the school year. The programs in New Paltz, Highland and Marlboro take place at the elementary schools and the one in Kingston meets at the YMCA.
The program in New Paltz begins at 7 a.m. at Lenape Elementary School. The kids play games and do crafts before school begins, then the kids that go to Duzine Elementary School take a bus over there at 9 a.m. or so. After school, the kids at Lenape take a bus over to Duzine, where they have activities available from 3-6 p.m.
Buboltz says in her new role she’d like to reach out to surrounding organizations to connect with other groups in the community. The YMCA is also considering how to best use social media to connect parents with the programs and share the activities the kids participate in through using all the apps and sites that are available now, she says.
For more information about the programs for kids available through the YMCA, call (845) 338-3810 or visit www.ymcaulster.org.